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    It pays to give Task Force 1-37 Armor your weapons



    Courtesy Story

    1-230th Cavalry Regiment

    By Staff Sgt. Tony Sailer

    KARBALA, Iraq -- The word on the street was that "Hardrock" was buying weapons for the next few days. Dozens of local Iraqis walked or drove to the Police Academy in south Karbala in hopes of selling their arms and ordnance to the coalition soldiers in early June.

    Soldiers from C Company, nicknamed Hardrock, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1-37 Armor, 1st Armored Division conducted a weapons buy back program along with other Soldiers from the task force. Known as the Weapons Reward Program, the goal is to get weapons off the streets and put more than $30,000 in the pockets of citizens and stimulate the local economy.

    "In the Weapons Reward Program, basically we buy back weapons from the Iraqi people," 1st Lt. Eric Iliff, a fire support officer with C Company said. "The prices [we offer] are pretty competitive. We have had very few people complain. Gripes usually come from those who are trying to sell inoperative weapons, he said. "They want to get the full price but for a broken AK," explained Iliff, "we are only going to pay a small percentage of what we pay for a functional weapon."

    The program started with flyers distributed throughout the community by a Polish army psychological operations team who also broadcast the messages about the program.

    The buy back program was scheduled for about a week from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day.

    As the morning passed, villagers started gathering near the Iraqi police service station. Some salesmen were looking to hawk ice or cigarettes but a few had weapons to turn in. As the weapons sellers approached the police station gate, Iraqi police officers greeted them and took possession of the weapons. Then the police searched each visitor and delivered the weapons to the coalition Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Military police soldiers who identified, inspected and secured each weapon.

    After a short paperwork process, the sellers would receive the going rate for the class of weapon they brought in. Some weapons were worth $200 to $300 each. A wide variety of weapons and ammunition were collected, including dozens of rocket propelled grenade launchers, assault and other types of rifles, hundreds of hand grenades and other explosives.

    "We have done well considering this is just the first couple of days doing this in Karbala," Iliff said.

    "Another unit did the same program down in Najaf. They started off a little bit slow. After a couple of days the people began telling their neighbors and friends." Iliff said that as word got out, other residents started saying, 'Hey, the Americans are giving good prices for buying back these weapons. Since we are not fighting anymore let's sell them back.' I think we have done a pretty good job," Iliff said.

    The program does not stop with the purchase. After gathering the weapons, coalition forces use them in a positive way to support the rebuilding of Iraq.

    "We will turn these weapons over to the Polish army contingent," Iliff said. "The ones that don't work will be destroyed." "All the weapons that do work will be given to the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps," Iliff expalined, "that way the new Iraqi government doesn't have to buy all new weapons to equip their soldiers. [The weapons] are already here in the country. We just put them in the right hands."



    Date Taken: 07.06.2004
    Date Posted: 07.06.2004 09:00
    Story ID: 59
    Location: KARBALA, IQ 

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